After hearing years of complaints from noncustodial parents regarding the fact that Minnesota’s child support guidelines did not take the custodial parents’ incomes into consideration when determining child support, the Minnesota legislature decided in 2006 to amend the State’s guidelines by moving to an “income shares” model.
Unfortunately, while the new child support guidelines do take both parents’ incomes into consideration (Minn.Stat. §518A.34); the formula which is used generally tends to result in higher child support obligations than what was the case under Minnesota’s old child support guidelines.
Child support obligations under the new guidelines are determined through the application of a somewhat complicated formula. Essentially, a base child support obligation is established based upon both parents’ gross monthly incomes (Minn.Stat. §518A.35). Then, that figure can be reduced based upon how much time the children spend with the “noncustodial parent” during the year (Minn.Stat. §518A.36). Income can be imputed to a party if he or she is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has developed a child support obligation calculator which determines what the child support obligations should be based upon the parties’ gross monthly incomes.
One problem with the formula used by the new guidelines is that if the noncustodial parent has the children between 10 percent and 45.1 percent of the time during the year, he is only entitled to a 12 percent adjustment in his or her child support obligation. Thus, even though the noncustodial parent may have the children almost one-half of the time during the year, he or she will only be entitled to meager 12 percent reduction from the guidelines. Our office considers this to be a rather inequitable result, especially considering that the new guidelines were modeled, in part, upon Oregon’s child support guidelines; which contain a number of gradations for the discount based upon the percentage of time the children spend with the noncustodial parent, rather than allowing all parents who have their children between 10 and 45.1 percent of the time during the year only a single 12 percent discount.
In addition to the base child support obligation the noncustodial parent can also be required to make a contribution towards the minor children’s day care, medical insurance expense, and nonreimbursed medical expenses.
The new guidelines are supposed to be phased in over a period of time. The new guidelines are to be applied in any new child support cases, but are not supposed to be applied to any existing child support obligations until 2008 unless there has been a twenty percent (20%) deviation in the child support obligor’s gross income since the last child support was entered.
The Nygaard & Longe Law Office has represented both child support obligors (those who owe child support) and obligees (those who receive child support) at the trial court and appellate levels in Minnesota.
We have also obtained favorable results for mothers in marital dissolution and custody proceedings.